Kidepo Valley National Park
The African Wilderness
Kidepo Valley National Park is Uganda’s most isolated park and it’s found in the country’s North eastern corner, close to Kenya and South Sudan in the furthest extremity of the remote, sparsely populated Karamoja region. One of East Africa’s magnificent wildernesses. The Kidepo landscape is one of the tremendous dramas with grasslands roamed by African safari Big Game favorites extending towards rugged mountains in all points of the campus. It is also an area of rich cultural interest for the plains around the park are dotted the Manyattas (homesteads) of Karamoja’s fierce traditional Pastoralists.
An impressive variety of wildlife species survive in Kidepo’s harsh, semi-arid environment. Grassland, bush and forest habitats in the 1442km2 park supports 86 mammal species and 475 bird species second to Queen Elizabeth National Park with 604 bird species. Kidepo is the only Uganda’s refuge for a cheetah, bat eared fox, striped hyenas and caracal while elands and zebras only occur in Kidepo and Lake Mburo. Elephant, rothschild’s giraffe, buffalo, lion, leopard, spotted hyena and black backed and side striped jackal are also present.
A distinctive bird list includes over 100 “dry country” residents of northern Uganda and Kenya including a number that are endemic to the Kidepo region eg Rose ringed parakeets, clapperton’s, francolin and Karamoja Apillis. Other highlights include the Ostrich, secretary bird, kori bastard, red-throated bee-eaters, Abyssinian roller and Abyssinian ground hornbill. Kidepo is also notable for 56 raptor species including the rare the lappet-faced vulture, lesser kestrel and denham’s bastard.
Activities/ Attractions in Kidepo Valley National Park
Narus Valley Game Drive
The south of Narus valley contains the park’s only permanent waterpoint and wildlife congregates in this area for much of the year. Look for buffalos and elephants in the swamps along the valley flow, giraffes and elands on the drier slope above and scan the rock outcrops for lions.
Kidepo Valley Drive
The drier Kidepo Valley is short on Big game but massive on scenery. 30kms north of the park is a tourism hub at Apoka, the road crosses the dry, sandy bed of the Kidepo river to enter an expansive plane lined to the east by the Morungule mountain range and to the north by the looming, 2975m-high label Lotukein South Sudan. Mammals are rare in this area but Ostriches and secretary birds are often seen.
Opportunities for guided walks range from short nature walks around Apoka Rest Camp to longer walks through the open grasslands of east carkine, and a hike along part or all of the 15km Rionomoe Trail which follows the southern side of the nourus. The Morungule range, which rises from the plane to the north east of Apoka, can be explored on foot with a ranger guide spent escort.
Experienced ranger guides are available at Apoka to help locate and identify birdlife in the park’s various habitats.
Community walks outside provides the opportunity to learn more about the life in the local Karamoja manyattas(homesteads) at Kawalakol, Lorukul and Karenga.
How to get to Kidepo Valley National Park
A road trip to Kidepo is an exciting adventure with various road conditions, so a sound 4WD vehicle is required. The quickest and most popular route runs via Gulu to Kitgum (571km). If travelling via Kitgum, try to return to Kampala through the vast undeveloped Karamoja region (661km) passing through Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve close to Mt Elgon National Park.
Charter and scheduled flights fly to Kidepo from Kajjansi and/or Entebbe International Airport.
Best time of the year to visit Kidepo Valley National Park
The best time to visit Kidepo Valley national park for game viewing is during the dry season in the month of July and August when animals are concentrated near water points. During the rainy seasons, animals disperse from the valleys, moving to higher and drier ground where they are not so easily seen.
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Kidepo Valley National Park in Pictures
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